Entry 1 – BOOK OF IMMORTALS: THE DISCIPLE

Title: Book of Immortals: The Disciple

Genre: Fantasy

Word Count: 110,000

 

Query: 

Dear Jadah,

When Celine dies in a plane crash, instead of going to heaven or hell, she becomes a character in a novel. In the new world around her, immortals practice their arts to gain prolonged life. Devils suck the energy out of mortals in exchange for power. And as the daughter of an immortal and a devil, Celine has to cover up her devil ancestry in her immortal school. She can live with all that, if she hadn’t read The Book. 

The Book is about how the protagonist Ying struggles to become one of the most powerful immortals of her time. And Celine’s job as the rival of the protagonist is to contrast her failure with the protagonist’s success. But her failure in the novel means her death. This time, for good.

Her crush Erik who also journeyed into this world tells her she should become a devil to change her fate. But her perfectionist mentor Aaren would never love devils; he only slays them. When her doomsday comes closer, Celine must choose to embrace devils or immortals, former crush or current love.

BOOK OF IMMORTALS: THE DISCIPLE is a complete 110,000-words fantasy novel. 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Author

 

First 250: 

CHAPTER ONE

“Push. Take a deep breath. Exhale.” 

In the distance, someone is giving directions in a calm, soothing voice. I wish she could tell me what to do, too. 

The walls are compressing against me, pushing me head first down into a canal. I am surrounded by fluid, but, surprisingly, I don’t drown.

“Your water broke. You’re almost there.”

Quickly, the warm fluid around me is drained from the compartment I am in. The walls continue to push against me, ever so rhythmically.

“I see the head!”

A gust of air flies past the tip of my head. It becomes very uncomfortable as I descend the ever-so-small canal. I don’t have my watch with me; I have no idea how much time has passed in agony. It can be just a few hours, but it can also be days. Finally, when I am ready to give up, it ends.

“Congratulations! It’s a girl.” 

And I am born.

As a middle-aged female is cleaning up the blood and amniotic fluid off my body, I look around with interest. The room is huge, but there is no glass anywhere to be seen. Even the windows are made of translucent paper framed by wood. I strike out the possibility that I’m in a hospital. From everyone’s ancient Oriental clothing that lacks both buttons and zippers, I might not even be in the Western world.   

On the other end of the room is a large round canopy bed where a woman rests with her eyes closed.

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9 thoughts on “Entry 1 – BOOK OF IMMORTALS: THE DISCIPLE

  1. Score for Query:
    words 10/10
    hook 9/10
    plot 8/10, I’m curious about this mentor. What does he mentor her in, and I couldn’t tell initially that he was her current love
    amount of characters 10/10
    show/tell 8/10
    stakes 7/10, Besides being slain by Aaren are they any negatives about being a Devil? Because I thought the most important thing was staying alive and how to stay alive.
    overall 8/10

    Score for first page
    first line 7/10
    voice 7/10
    originality 8/10
    character development 8/10
    setting/world building 8/10
    overall 8/10 the first page describes the scene well, even though I was momentarily confused in the beginning but realized the character was the baby. Perhaps you could add the emotional connection of the character to the mother, so that she doesn’t seem like just a pushing object. Maybe we could hear her voice.

    From entry 4

  2. Query: 7/10 I personally think 250-300 words is too long for a query. This one’s around 180 and still feels “wordy”.

    Hook: 7/10 I like the idea of a character “dying” only to become part of a novel. I do think that first sentence though could be reworked to give it more punch. Perhaps the “instead of going to heaven or hell” can be taken out, since that’s not a universal given.

    Plot: 5/10 Sorry, but the plot points left me confused. Is the novel she’s part of The Book? What “arts” do the immortals practice?

    Characters: 6/10 Too many. Celine, Erik, Aaren, the devil, Ying. I’d say pick two. The rest are subplots.

    Showing vs. Telling: 7/10 Reads much like a synopsis.

    Stakes: 5/10 We’re led to assume that her failing is a bad thing since she’s battling “evil”. But what happens if she does fail? You don’t tell us.

    Overall: 6/10

    First Line: 5/10 Starting a book with dialogue is tricky and if you decide to do this, it better be a great line. This one isn’t. It’s obvious that someone’s about to give birth and that is both as far from your pitch as possible, plus not very appealing.

    Voice: 7/10

    Originality: 8/10

    Character Development: 5/10 I can’t get behind a delivery scene from the POV of the baby being born. Is this really necessary?

    Setting/World Building: 5/10 See above.

    Overall: 6/10

  3. Feedback From Entry #9
    Query
    words 5/10 I think it could be cleaned up and made more concise. It is so hard in a query but “economy of words” is the name of the game.
    hook 7/10
    plot 8/10
    amount character 6/10 – Too many characters to track.
    show/tell 7/10
    stakes 9/10 Very interesting concept.
    overall 8/10.

    First page
    first line 7/10 – The first line I knew what I was reading but a birth scene wouldn’t draw me in.
    voice 7/10
    originality 7/10
    character development 8/10
    setting 6/10 Again, personal preference but birth scene just did’t work for me.
    overall 7/10

  4. from Entry #10
    Query:

    Query is 250-300 Words: 10/10
    Hook: 9/10
    Plot: 9/10
    Amount of Characters: 9/10
    Showing vs. Telling: 7/10
    Stakes Clearly Listed: 7 /10
    Overall: 8/10

    First 250:

    First Line: 7 /10
    Voice: 7/10 Good description though.
    Originality: 8 /10 Interesting scene.
    Character Development: 5 /10 Not learning much about character in this scene, but it’s early!
    Setting/World Building: 7 /10 Very descriptive, but a little confusing.
    Overall: 7/10 I am not sure how to feel about the birth scene. It’s not really something I would want to remember or relive. I would be afraid of readers turning away after the first page.

  5. Query:
    Query is 250-300 Words: 8/10 It’s almost 200 words
Hook: 10/10

    Plot is Easily Understandable (MC, Goal, Conflict): 6/10
    
Amount of Characters Listed: 9/10
 It threw me off a bit when you mentioned someone named Aaron right at the very end.
    Showing vs. Telling (Doesn’t Read like a Synopsis): 9/10

    Stakes Clearly Listed: 7/10 At the end you mention Celine’s doomsday, which hasn’t been brought up before. Is her time in this immortal realm limited? Mentioning that earlier might make the stakes more compelling.
    
Overall: 7/10 I really love this concept, but I got a little confused when you brought in The Book, devils sucking power from immortals, and a new character named Aaron at the very end.

    First 250:
    First Line: 7/10 Made me think of childbirth, which was obviously the purpose. 🙂 But it was a little strange in context with the rest of the story, even though it’s clear later that Celine is being “reborn” into this new world.
    
Voice: 9/10
    
Originality: 7/10

    Character Development: 8/10 It’s hard to tell so early, but I do like Celine’s voice.

    Setting/World Building: 9/10 The childbirth scene threw me off, but I like the descriptions of Celine’s surroundings after the “rebirth” scene.

    Overall: 8/10

    from entry number 8

  6. Query:
    Words: 10/10
    Hook: 8/10
    Plot: 8/10
    Characters: 8/10
    Showing vs Telling: 8/10
    Stakes: 9/10
    Overall: 8/10

    First 250:
    First Line: 5/10. I think you should swap the first and second lines.
    Voice: 9/10
    Originality: 9/10
    Character: 6/10. This one was tricky. I mean, a character *is* actually “developing”! However, we know nothing about her.
    Setting: 8/10
    Overall: 7/10

  7. Entry 1: BOOK OF IMMORTALS: THE DISCIPLE
    (as interpreted by entry #4)

    Query:
    Length: 10
    Hook: 5
    Plot is Easily Understandable (MC, Goal, Conflict): 4
    Amount of Characters Listed: 7
    Showing vs. Telling (Doesn’t Read like a Synopsis): 5
    Stakes Clearly Listed: 4
    Overall: 5

    First 250:
    First Line: 6
    Voice: 4
    Originality: 8
    Character Development: 2
    Setting/World Building: 6
    Overall: 6

    Total score: 72

    Query:
    Plot: The second paragraph is confusing, and makes your protagonist also the antagonist.
    Stakes: Other than the last part of paragraph 2, the stake are unclear. Since your MC has already died for real, and now lives only in a story within a story, I’m having trouble empathizing with her.
    Overall: Some sentences read rather awkwardly. It’s not clear who is who in the last paragraph (crush, former crush, current love).

    First 250:
    Describing a birth from the baby’s point of view is certainly original, but it’s not something I’m willing to accept this early in the novel, particularly as she is obviously retaining her knowledge from her previous life.
    Based on what you told us in the query, your MC is immortal, but starting her off as a baby in a first-person-present-tense manuscript does not work.

    General notes, applicable to all:

    Query length:
    250-275 is the sweet spot to aim for (300 words is too long). I used a simple formula. Any query of appropriate length scored 10/10. Anything over 275 words (excluding salutation and sign-off) lost one point, and then another point was deducted for every 10 words extra. I did not deduct points for short queries as this is not likely to be a problem with agents, provided all the important information is presented.

    Number of characters:
    I awarded the maximum to every entrant, unless it read like a character soup, or it was clear that something was missing.
    (Note for next time: I think this category should have been a little broader to include depth of character)

    Other categories:
    I figured that 6 is an average score, appropriate for an average query as seen in the “Query Critiques” forum (polished & revised versions, not first drafts as this is a contest and entries should already be polished). I adjusted the scores up or down based on how I felt it would stack up on that forum.

    Overall:
    I skewed the overall scores slightly depending on whether or not the entry left me wanting to read more.

  8. Query
    Words: 10/10
    Hook: 9/10–Good hook, but it could be tightened for clarity.
    Plot: 8/10
    Characters: 9/10–Is Erik a MC? If so, I would like to know more about him. Aaren sounds like a secondary character; if he’s vital to the query, then exclude his name but keep his ‘title’.
    Showing vs. Telling: 9/10
    Stakes: 8/10
    Overall: 8/10–Nice job presenting the fantasy world w/o so much exposition. You presented the plot well.

    First 250
    First Line: 8/10
    Voice: 10/10–Fantastic!
    Originality: 9/10
    Character Development: 9/10
    Setting/World Building: 9/10
    Overall: 9/10–Very impressive first 250. Need to work on losing the passive voice (i.e. “As a middle-aged female is cleaning up the blood” to “As a middle-aged female CLEANS up the blood”), making your verbs active.

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